I was meeting my wife. Or is she my ex-wife? I don't know. That word still feels cold and unfamiliar on my tongue. Suffice it to say, we're separated and she's not coming back. We met at the park so the kid could play and she and I could
talk some things over. I sat there soaking up the sun, watching my daughter running, laughing, and playing with other children, contemplating her point of view in all of this; worrying for her current and future emotional well-being. You know, the stuff dads have to worry themselves about on behalf of their daughters.
But we weren't here to contemplate. We were here to work through the details and arrangements that are inevitable after the dissolution of
a 17 year relationship. And I couldn't get out of my own head. I had come prepared for disagreement. I had come on the emotional defensive. I had reason and rational argument at my disposal. In other words, I was hurting and not ready to face forward without expending at least some energy looking backward, even if it was just for the sake of mutual torment.
This couple sat across the way on a park
bench, holding hands and watching their carefree, happy children play. I
didn't envy them. My wife (ex-wife?) was focused on the business at hand. To her ongoing dissapointment with me, I was not. I was lost in thought, thinking of my daugther. Thinking of my pain. Thinking about this couple, smiling at their kids, and at each other. Imagining the pain that inevitably awaited them 17 years down the line. Poor ignorant bastards.
"What are you looking at? Did you hear what I said?" my wife demanded. I looked at her, still in my head; a little disoriented and not prepared with a real answer.
Then there was noise, a little commotion, and then crying. The woman on the park bench jumped up and hurried to her little one who had fallen and scraped his knee. The man followed her in short order, both of them proceeding to comfort their child and each other, and whatever else happy young couples do. I'm not sure, to be honest. It's hard to remember. Anyway my initial focus had been on the parents, sitting contended if not blissful with one another, unwittingly fueling my thoughts of self pity and cynicism. However when they got up, they escaped my attention entirely.
My eyes were transfixed on the park bench they had just vacated. Across the backrest and no longer obscured, was a quote carved into the wooden slats, attributed (misattributed actually) to Dr. Seuss. And at that moment there was nothing else in the world.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it
I stared at the message utterly transfixed for what seemed like ten minutes and was probably closer to 10 seconds. Then I looked at my wife who was frowning at me mystified, and I smiled at her. Maybe a little wide-eyed. She looked back questioningly, as if I'd lost my mind. I almost laughed. I'm glad I didn't. The quote echoed in my head, reverberated down and down. It began touching things I had forgotten were there. I stood up and walked over to the park bench. The sun was shining through the maple tree in just such a way that the words were lit in gold, standing out like they'd been projected there. I actually fumbled for my phone and took a picture of it. I felt lighter. Glimpses of happy memories flashed at me, all laughter and love and vivacious life. Snippets of my relationship, of my little family, of our adventures. A few glimpes of painful, but deeply connected moments.
I glanced over at the previous occupants, their commotion settled and gathering their things. Maybe off to get icecream somewhere as a family? Yeah, that feels right, but who knows. I smiled.
Not necessarily doomed. They might make it. Maybe not. It won't matter either way if when they do part, it's in love, and with gratitude for each other. Nothing is permanent. Ending a relationship is a microcosmic death. Even death isn't that big a deal; I mean, everyone does it, right?
These thoughts and a multitude more washed over me in a way that felt literal. I walked back over to my wife and sat down. I smiled at her and I said, "I'm sorry. And I love you. You have my full attention. What were you saying?"
I want to believe in higher order. I do believe, in some way. I read Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle and TheDeadGuy. And I have faith in Love. And God is Love. And Existence Itself is God.
Mine is definitely a blind faith however. I'm plagued by doubt and rationalism to the point that it's almost a secular form of dogma. Sometimes I have to force myself to ignore it and be open to what I WANT to believe rather than be run down by my tendency toward the rational. I long for revelation. For Gnosis. For the Big Reveal. I wish spirits or angels or even demons would visit me and help me establish firmly in my stubborn rational mind that the esoteric spiritual universe that I believe in is ultimately the REAL FUCKIN DEAL.
At this point in my life, so many things are changing. It's tough to admit, especially to myself, but I'm lost. I've spent 35 years getting cozy and now everything is raw, fresh upheaval. And admittedly, it's exciting. But I've been looking for direction lately. I'm searching for light in the dark, and hoping for the Universe to intervene in some undeniable, spectacular way that I won't be even slightly tempted to dismiss with the razor of rationalism.
If fate has played a major part in my life to this point, it has done so without my recognition. So, as one who's not accustomed to receiving (or perhaps is just very bad at interpreting) signs from the Universe, I've been keeping my eyes and my heart open, looking for direction and for guide posts. And wouldn't you know, at exactly the moment I needed to let go of my inner resistance to this life-altering change; when I most needed to find gratitude for the blessings I had and accept the loss that was in front of me; when I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by jealousy and nostalgia, I got this message from the Universe, emblazoned on the back of a park bench.
More recently, I was talking to this girl I know. She asked me out on an actual date. Immediately with the internal monologue.
I'm not ready to date, but I like her. We've been talking a lot. She doesn't want to get serious either, so what the hell? She's planning to move to California at the end of the year, so it would be emotional suicide to get attached. I can't uproot right now; my daughter needs me more than ever before. I need change. My daughter needs stability. I probably shouldn't go out with her. She DEFINITELY can't meet my kid. I'm vulnerable right now and I'm going to get attached. Am I rationalizing? I feel like I'm rationalizing. Remember your lesson, Justin. Let go, enjoy the things that come your way, and appreciate them for what they are in their time and place. Don't get attached. Don't. You can enjoy a good thing without getting attached.
I decide to go on the date. She shows up wearing a shirt that says, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it
happened. - Dr. Seuss." Exasperation at the misattribution. I tend to overthink these things?